Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was announced earlier this year by Ubisoft as a continuation of Ezio's (the Assassin's Creed II protagonist) journey. The company also revealed that multiplayer would be a feature in Assassin's Creed for the first time. Gaming Union got a chance to check out both the single and multiplayer components earlier. Some hands-on impressions of multiplayer will follow, but for now we'll focus on the campaign.
The demo began with a siege on the Auditore countryside villa, Ezio's base of operations in the last game. A powerful group of men from Rome, somehow associated with the Pope from AC II, are looking to wipe out the Assassins. They came with a massive army at their disposal complete with siege towers, legions of troops, arrows, the works. Ezio beings by racing through the narrow streets on his unwieldy horse, as boulders, arrows, and crumpling buildings rain down from the sky above. The Ubisoft Montreal developer walking us through the section stressed the emphasis they've put on more focused, "memorable" moments for Brotherhood - best illustrated by the next cannon section. Ezio took control of a cannon on the villa walls to shoot down siege towers as they approached. The entire scene looked fantastic. It was one of the most hectic, epic scenes I've seen so far from the series.
The next section of the demonstration skipped ahead to later in the game, where Ezio and the 'brotherhood' of Assassins had gathered for an attack in Rome. Speaking of Rome, apparently the city will be three times the size of Venice from AC II, which is quite substantial. Anyway, this section was meant to show the group dynamics Ezio can employ to his advantage in Brotherhood. For example, he can call upon members of his team to quietly take out a guard, or take out several guards in a combined arrow attack. However, Ezio doesn't simply inherit this luxury, he must recruit and train the fellow Assassins, eventually making them on par with his own skill level. Something that seems absolutely necessary, as having a gang of Assassins at your disposal definitely made things look easy.
Ubisoft Montreal also made a point of showing the new offensive combat mechanics they've implemented based on fan feedback. Some had criticized the defensive nature of AC's combat, so the team hope to rectify that with a combo system. Once you initiate an offensive kill on you continue that streak with a well timed combo. Ezio can walk over groups of enemies in this way, but they don't sit back and take it. The enemies will actively try and interrupt your combo, catching Ezio off balance. It's a nice addition to the fighting system, but we'll have to get our hands on it to really know how effective it is.
Overall, the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood campaign demo definitely left a very strong impression. The set pieces looked stunning, and the focus on memorable moments is a good sign. Although, we only saw a few limited sections of the game, so we can't be sure if the rest of the game maintains the same breakneck pace.